Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't touch my yellow and charity lotteries

We have witnessed several odd events in the cycling world over the past three weeks. Let me start with the hoopla surrounding StillerStrong. I found out about this issue when I accidently saw a YouTube video of Johan Bruyneel trying to sound an ominous warning to Ben Stiller about Lance Armstrong and his legal team, "They will come after you." Later I found out that the charade has also made Conan O'Brien and the late night talk circuit.

In brief, comedian Ben Stiller has started a fundraising campaign for a Haitian school. To raise funds he is selling yellow headbands that read StillerStrong.. As far as I can tell the campaign is for real but it is not exactly a great success. One of the video's Stiller posted has been an appeal to Lance to wear the StillerStrong headband. It wasn't well received.

The use of "strong" and the yellow headwear have upset Lance quite a bit. So much so that he has started legal action to protect his "brand." The idea of branding charitable causes may rub some people the wrong way, but Lance is determined.

The most telling episode is a video of the Conan show where Lance appears and shows his disapproval. Ben Stiller then says, "So you're saying you own the word strong and the color yellow?" and Lance responds after a brief pause, "Yes." Some people in the audience were clearly taken aback by that.

In related news, a blogger called FatCyclist raised more than $135,000 for World Bicycle Relief and LiveStrong so he could spend a weekend with Team RadioShack in Tucson, AZ. He managed to do this in about three days by essentially organizing a lottery where "tickets" cost $5 a pop and the top prizes were a trip to the Tour, donated by Trek Travel and two one-of-a-kind bicycles, donated by Trek and Gary Fisher.

It appears from the Fat Cyclist website that Fatty, as he is affectionately known to his supporters, has used this same lottery tactic many times before. There is at least one other event in the summer where he had an Orbea Orca/Diva (winner's choice) with Shimano's new battery powered shifting as the top prize.

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